I wrote this letter (this is an edited version) to our program. It applies to all of us I reckon...
An Ode to the 2017 Season
A high school football season is precious. A young man only gets four of them if he is lucky. Each season is unique in that the squad is composed of a different cast of characters each with their own contribution to make. Some year’s we are big, some years we are fast, some years it is a mix of both. The mortar between the bricks is the ability to catch, run, tackle, block, kick and pursue. The rebar that runs between the bricks is the marrow of the game; unselfishness, toughness in adversity, heart, desire and a love for one another. The arrangement of the bricks is the ability to do one’s part to the best of his abilities within the team schemes for offense, defense, punt protection and coverage, kick-off coverage, punt return, field goal/extra-point and kick-return. In short many bringing their A-game to the practice and playing fields to become one heartbeat, one play at a time in common-cause. There is “individual greatness” inside each man and when it is all focused in one direction, with one purpose something beautiful happens. Something bigger than the physical, something magic and spiritual that creates a play or series of plays that are in the moment, that have never been done in quite the same way before and will never be done the exact same way again. It is a song in the moment, it is creation, it is the work of many hands and it lasts a lifetime. Quite simply, it is beautiful. Beautiful because it was made from scratch and the product of many striving in unison for perfection. Perfection as individuals is being the best we can be with what we have in a moment in time. Perfection is tiered, it gets harder to obtain with each individual added to the equation. The game played in between the sidelines, on the field of battle against an opponent determined to disrupt your efforts at every turn within the rules of play demands the ultimate in terms of perfection. Let us go back to the phases of the game: Offense (11 Players), Defense (11 players), Kick-Off (11 players), Kick-Return (11 players), Punt Team (11 players), Punt Return (11 players), Field Goal/PAT (11 players) defending the Field Goal/PAT (11 players). Now that is 88 players not including the 2’s and 3’s that have to be trained-up to fill in at a moment’s notice with no loss of effectiveness. Really, that’s 3 x 88 brains, bodies and fighting spirits that have to coordinate themselves with the goal of perfection in the moment, where every player has to succeed for the other 10 to succeed on a given play. That number is 264 players that have to be polished and precise TOGETHER to succeed. Most games vary by the number of plays played between 120 and 150 plays. That means at a minimum you have to have 264 brains, bodies and fighting spirits preparing and striving for perfection with 120 opportunities to do so….that folks is 31 680 combinations of a perfect effort to make a perfect play in one game. Now, a regular season is nine (9) games. That is 285 120 opportunities to achieve perfection together. A championship season would be 13 games. That is 411 840 opportunities to be perfect in the face of the headwinds of an opponent hell bent on disrupting a perfect team effort in one season.
Herein resides the greatness of the game. There is boundless and quite frankly, exponential opportunity for finding one’s bets self. The pursuit of perfection as an individual, as a sub-unit, as a unit and a team is manifest. There is a seat at the table for EVERYONE and the recipe for perfection season after precious season draws from its human ingredients that are as varied as the society we live in. Within a school building there is a group of potential players that are walking the hallways. As a coach, they are what you have so you give them all you have and that gang is the social contract. Helping each player find their greatness and guiding them to perfection as a team is the challenge. Coaching staffs are again, if you do the math, a group of architects and engineers with a similar exponential task before them. The staff must be coordinated in terms of training for the ultimate outcome. All those opportunities gang, they add up to the journey that is a season. A precious season like none that has come before and like none that will ever follow. When the final whistle blew this year, the last page of the 2017 season was turned. The afterglow of the season we all authored together like a novel just read, will resonate for the rest of our lives. When you look back at it, the journey reigned supreme over any win-loss record. Shakespeare once wrote that good memories are like roses in winter or something to that effect. As we grow in to the winters of our respective lives remember those TEAMS you played on and you will will always live in the full bloom of those memories!